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"Realistic" things that no-one actually wants to deal with in fantasy games

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
Speaking of a little familiarity damaging handwaving... that strikes me as implausible. When people have trade frequently enough to even talk about a market, they invent money. Some stable high-value commodity if no authority is providing something better. They do this even *despite* the local authorities, like cigarette 'money' in prisons. 'Barter' but with a standardized commodity of value.

If things are really bad and you barely have trade, then you don't really have market interaction. Even then, or especially then, I would guess most households would take either food or e.g. metal tools, if some passing adventurer wants to buy something the household can actually spare.
As I understand, barter as a system of exchange tends to develop where the concept of money has been introduced, but physical currency is absent; money makes it relatively easy to compare the value of unlike objects. It also makes it easy to keep track of debts, so an exchange of items of unequal value is not that great a problem. Assuming exchanges are local, that the participants are known to each other, and expect to have ongoing social relationships, unequal exchages are acceptable, even expected; the debt need not be resolved immediately, and in fact debt relationships are social relationships. So you don't necessarily need physical currency for local transactions.

However, it's another matter when you've got exchanges between strangers, who do not expect an ongoing social relationship. Then there's considerably more reason to insist that exchanges be perfectly equal, and resolved at the moment of agreement. In that circumstance, currency with agreed upon value is very useful. And that's where it's going to be a challenge for adventurers to make exchanges.
 

Law Orc

Quasi-Possum
Staff member
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Speaking of a little familiarity damaging handwaving... that strikes me as implausible. When people have trade frequently enough to even talk about a market, they invent money. Some stable high-value commodity if no authority is providing something better. They do this even *despite* the local authorities, like cigarette 'money' in prisons. 'Barter' but with a standardized commodity of value.

If things are really bad and you barely have trade, then you don't really have market interaction. Even then, or especially then, I would guess most households would take either food or e.g. metal tools, if some passing adventurer wants to buy something the household can actually spare.
Yeah.

"Barter" in the sense of directly trading one good for another at rates negotiated on the spot is... not really a thing outside of 19th century economic speculation.
 

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
Validated User
As I understand, barter as a system of exchange tends to develop where the concept of money has been introduced, but physical currency is absent; money makes it relatively easy to compare the value of unlike objects. It also makes it easy to keep track of debts, so an exchange of items of unequal value is not that great a problem. Assuming exchanges are local, that the participants are known to each other, and expect to have ongoing social relationships, unequal exchages are acceptable, even expected; the debt need not be resolved immediately, and in fact debt relationships are social relationships. So you don't necessarily need physical currency for local transactions.

However, it's another matter when you've got exchanges between strangers, who do not expect an ongoing social relationship. Then there's considerably more reason to insist that exchanges be perfectly equal, and resolved at the moment of agreement. In that circumstance, currency with agreed upon value is very useful. And that's where it's going to be a challenge for adventurers to make exchanges.
Yes, the narrative that everyone started out with inconvenient barter and then invented convenient money is mostly an outdated assumption that still gets taught in schools because it's simple and no one bothers to keep that stuff up to date. Once again, this is a case where actual realism beats common-knowledge "realism".
 

Gogmagog

Registered User
Validated User
Speaking of a little familiarity damaging handwaving... that strikes me as implausible. When people have trade frequently enough to even talk about a market, they invent money. Some stable high-value commodity if no authority is providing something better. They do this even *despite* the local authorities, like cigarette 'money' in prisons. 'Barter' but with a standardized commodity of value.

If things are really bad and you barely have trade, then you don't really have market interaction. Even then, or especially then, I would guess most households would take either food or e.g. metal tools, if some passing adventurer wants to buy something the household can actually spare.
People start painting rocks different colors. Red gets you a meal and a bed, blue gets you a horse..
 

Dagor

Registered User
Validated User
The 19th century again, hm?

...the more I learn about how much errant nonsense and at times blatant misinformation can be traced back to that exact era, the more I want to take a nice big hammer to pretty much any 'Victorian' idea that I can find, the trouble's just in easily identifying them. :mad:

(And yeah, I'm aware that that's not precisely the most unbiased position in turn. I simply don't feel like being 'objective' about that topic right now, rassafrassagnrrrrgl.)
 

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
Validated User
The 19th century again, hm?

...the more I learn about how much errant nonsense and at times blatant misinformation can be traced back to that exact era, the more I want to take a nice big hammer to pretty much any 'Victorian' idea that I can find, the trouble's just in easily identifying them. :mad:

(And yeah, I'm aware that that's not precisely the most unbiased position in turn. I simply don't feel like being 'objective' about that topic right now, rassafrassagnrrrrgl.)
Unfortunately, I think that 19th century historiography has also affected what "realism" is supposed to be like in the minds of many. Both the "dung ages" interpretation of history as well as the romanticism it's a reaction against is heavily influenced by scholarship from that era.
 

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
The 19th century again, hm?
Somewhere else, I remember someone arguing that we tend to bash 19th century intellectuals for their misconceptions, but we know about those misconceptions from other 19th century intellectuals criticizing them.
 

Rangdo

I used to be Ovid.
Validated User
Unfortunately, I think that 19th century historiography has also affected what "realism" is supposed to be like in the minds of many. Both the "dung ages" interpretation of history as well as the romanticism it's a reaction against is heavily influenced by scholarship from that era.
Indirectly. If you read 19C historians in the original, their work is often very subtle. But once it got boiled down into summaries for schools and wider consumption, it turned into stereotypes. Later historians then quote bits from the 19C ones that fit the stereotypes and ignore the rest. If they'd actually read Leopold von Ranke, Georg Waitz or Frederic Maitland they'd have a higher opinion. (Same dynamic goes for Marx and later Marxists.)
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
For implausible wings not only can you say "It's magic" but you could literally have the wings be magic projections. No need to figure out how they fold up or any of that other nonsense.
 

Aesthete

A for Aeffort
Validated User
Yes, the narrative that everyone started out with inconvenient barter and then invented convenient money is mostly an outdated assumption that still gets taught in schools because it's simple and no one bothers to keep that stuff up to date. Once again, this is a case where actual realism beats common-knowledge "realism".
How do we think it actually played out?
 
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